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US Investigates Boeing for Alleged Falsification of 787 Records

Photo : AP

US air safety authorities are currently delving into potential lapses at Boeing, with a focus on whether the aerospace giant fulfilled obligatory inspections on its 787 aircraft and whether there was any falsification of records by employees, officials disclosed on Monday. The probe was initiated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in response to information provided by Boeing indicating that mandated inspections might not have been carried out as required.

The specific concern revolves around whether Boeing conducted essential inspections to validate adequate bonding and grounding where the wings meet the fuselage on certain 787 Dreamliner planes, as stated in an email from the FAA. The agency clarified that the investigation commenced after Boeing's notification of potential inspection omissions, critical for ensuring safe and effective electrical connectivity between various aircraft components.

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"The FAA is investigating whether Boeing completed the inspections and whether company employees may have falsified aircraft records," the agency stated. "At the same time, Boeing is reinspecting all 787 airplanes still within the production system and must also create a plan to address the in-service fleet."

The issue came to light after a Boeing employee flagged an "irregularity" and escalated the matter to a supervisor. Subsequent review revealed instances where individuals failed to conduct a required test but falsely recorded it as completed, according to Scott Stocker, head of the Boeing 787 program, in an email to staff. Boeing promptly informed regulators of these findings and initiated corrective measures.

Stocker assured that engineering assessments indicated no immediate safety risk associated with the identified issues. However, the FAA's scrutiny adds to Boeing's array of challenges, including the fallout from a harrowing incident involving an Alaska Airlines flight in January, wherein a fuselage panel blew out.

Following the Alaska Airlines incident, the FAA mandated Boeing to present a plan within three months addressing "systemic quality-control issues." The company's management of the 787 program has also been questioned, particularly at an April Senate hearing where a whistleblower alleged retaliation after voicing concerns about manufacturing processes jeopardizing aircraft safety.

An FAA advisory panel audit earlier this year underscored significant deficiencies in Boeing's safety culture, highlighting a disconnect between senior management and other employees regarding safety concerns. The recent developments prompted praise from Stocker for the employee who raised the alarm, emphasizing the company's commitment to acceptable standards of conduct.

Observers note that Boeing's challenges reflect deeper-rooted safety culture issues, with implications for its future leadership. The impending departure of Chief Executive Dave Calhoun has sparked speculation about the company's direction. Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis recently recommended shareholders vote against Calhoun's reelection to the board, citing concerns over safety culture oversight and transformation efforts following safety incidents like the one involving Alaska Airlines.

May 7, 2024 10:50 a.m. 5927

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